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Forde digs deep for Combermere

Justin Marville

Forde digs deep for Combermere

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For all the talk about their imports, Combermere’s home grown talents were the ones who had something to say.
Led by CARIFTA gold medallist Cindy Forde and Rasheed Blackman, the once downtrodden athletics programme signalled its return to prominence yesterday after capturing both senior races of the schools’ cross-country finals at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex course.
The “Cawmere comeback” has become school sports’ major talking point following the Waterford institution’s grand intake of several “big-named” athletes from outside schools this semester.
And that heavy influx already started to pay dividends as former Coleridge and Parry standout Shani Adams’ arrival only bolstered the strength of what was an already formidable senior line-up.
But Adams had to play second fiddle to the home-grown Forde on this day, with the regional 800 metres queen leading the 3 000-metre event from start to finish on the way to a victorious 11 minute, 59 second clocking.
Adams crossed the line just two seconds behind but had an almost minute and a half gap in front of Springer’s third-placed Tanisha Stanford (13:27). Forde’s schoolmate Rhea Rollins (14:06) finished fourth as part of Combermere’s team victory in the senior girls race.
They would have to settle for mere individual glory in the boys’ equivalent though, as Rasheed Blackman (15.37) capped a stirring performance to take the 4 500-metre race ahead of Alleyne’s highly-rated Pius Emilien (15.53) and Kevin Barton (St Leonard’s) 16.25.
This was after Barton’s teammates set the early tempo heading down the hill on the first lap, having threatened to dominate most of the top positions. But Emilien surged to the lead heading into the second lap before eventually making way to the hard-charging Blackman some five minutes later.
Emilien got the consolation of leading his team to overall honours in the seniors after Alleyne finished with a division-best 73 points to upend Queen’s College (90) and Foundation (91).
It was the second team victory on the day for Alleyne, who proved to be the event’s real “feel-good” story following a division title in the first form boys, an overall second-place showing in the Under-15 boys’ category and a third-place finish in the senior girls division.
And Khobia Noel (10:51) gave them further reason to celebrate when he held off Alma Parris’ duo of Matthew Whitehall (10:55) and the gritty King Layne (11:00) to win the Under-15 boys’ 3 000 metres.
But Noel’s victory was just good enough to give Alleyne second overall in that category as Lodge’s 67-point tally trumped their total of 120. Lester Vaughan were third on 123.
Reigning 13-time inter-schools’ queens Springer also had a similarly dominant showing on the day, having sported individual victories from the impressive Jade Searles and Drew-Ann Clarke in the Under-15 and first form girls’ races respectively.
Garrison’s Kadeem Morgan won the boys’ first-form race with a 6:12 clocking to beat the likes of Shakeem Fenty (6:14) of Grantley Adams and Shaquon Arthur (6:26) of Deighton Griffith.